The Antimatter Decision Filter

The Antimatter Decision Filter

Yuval wrote a thoughtful post today about team liquidity. In this post, in passing, he mentions the Lean Decision Filter:

Lean Decision Filter

• Value trumps Flow – Expedite at the expense of flow to maximize value

• Flow trumps Waste Elimination – Increase WIP if required to maintain flow even though it will add waste

• Eliminate waste to improve efficiency – Do not pursue economy of scale

It reminded me about the core issue I have with Lean (real Lean – whatever that might mean, not e.g. LINO or LAME). My issue is about depth. For all its merits, Lean fails to address the heart of what makes us tick. Our humanity. Our nature as social animals. The way millions year of evolution have wired us (with the possible exception of the sociopaths). In other words, Lean has nothing to say about the role of emotions in driving everything we, as humans, do.

Oh yes, the Toyota Way stresses the human dimension, in terms of e.g. respect for people. Not that many non-Toyota implementations of Lean major on that aspect, compared to e.g. Kaizen, JIT, Lead times, Quality, Cost, Jidoka, Heijunka, Pull, Flow, etc..

But where’s the humanity? Where’s the emphasis on attending to folks’ needs? And i’m not claiming a moral imperative here. Simply pragmatism, in the light of what science tells us about people involved in collaborative knowledge-work.

The Humane Filter

So, here for your delectation, is an Antimatter Principle version of the Lean Decision Filter:

  • Needs trump Emotions – Or more exactly, needs drive our emotions. When our needs are being well-met, we feel joy and similar “positive” emotions. When our needs are not being met too well, we feel some range of “negative” emotions.
  • Emotions trump Value – All appreciation of value, every kind of value, resides in the domain of emotions. Things are only valuable to the extent that (some) people feel that those things meet – or could meet – their needs.
  • Value trumps Flow
  • Flow trumps Waste Elimination
  • Eliminate waste to improve efficiency

If you’re considering applying Lean principles, or in the process of applying them, how deep will you go?

– Bob

Further Reading

Nonviolent Communication ~  Marshall B. Rosenberg
“if you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business” ~ Simon Sinek (video)

2 comments
  1. beelore said:

    I came across a quote from Joseph Campbell yesterday: “We are so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is all about.

    The term “value” can (and, perhaps, should) be broadened to include not just things that are of value to an organisation – but also things that are of value to the individuals within it. For, if an individual does not feel themselves growing by conducting a role in the organisation, then they are not going to be as effective as they could be.

    My concern about having emotions and needs trump value is that you can end up with lots of egos and issues and arguments as to whose needs and emotions come first.

    So, within value, there might be more subtle decision filters:

    + The value of a customer trumps that of a supplier
    + The value of a helping someone achieve inner value trumps the value of helping others achieve outer value.
    + ….

    Thus, if you broaden the definition of value, then maybe the Lean Decision Filter does not need to change?

    btw – I really like the Lean Decision Filter – and have not seen before – so thanks very much for the reference.

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